Monday, 14 July 2014

Madrid Monday: What to do in Madrid this summer

Madrid Monday is a series of posts about the Spanish capital. Here I review restaurants and bars, and write about tourist attractions, cultural events and more. If you have any requests for topics to cover, just leave me a comment.

Summer is not the best time to visit Madrid. As the mercury shoots up the thermometer to 35 plus, city dwellers pack their bags and flee Spain's capital for the breezy beaches of the coast. For those left behind in July and August (and the tourists who were brave/daft enough to book summer breaks), it can sometimes seem as though the city is almost deserted. It's true, at 4pm there's barely a soul in some streets, bar the aforementioned tourists. But for those sticking around over summer, there's plenty to do. Here's a selection of events in Madrid in summer 2014.

Veranos de la Villa: Madrid's annual arts festival

The Jardines de Sabatini, one of the Veranos de la Villa venues
Every year, venues around the city play host to the many concerts and performances that make up the programme of Veranos de la Villa. With dance, film, music and theatre all on the agenda, there's something to suit all artistic leanings. Veranos de la Villa runs throughout July and August, and in 2014 you'll find events at Teatro Circo Price, the outdoor location of Jardines de Sabatini below the Royal Palace, the Matadero cultural centre, the Plaza Mayor and more. This year's highlights include Argentinian singer Andrés Calamaro's concert at Teatro Price on 23 July, the Moscow Ballet's performances of Giselle and Swan Lake at the Jardines de Sabatini from 27–30 August and (for Spanish speakers) the Fringe Festival of theatre, dance, music and performance art running throughout July at Matadero. There's also a puppet festival for children in Retiro Park. You can find all information and book tickets here.

Faunia by Night

One of the inhabitants of Faunia

As well as the zoo situated in Casa de Campo, Madrid is also home to Faunia, a wildlife park that attempts to recreate the natural habitats of hundreds of species. Faunia is divided into 13 thematic areas, where mammals, fish, insects and reptiles all thrive. From Russian tortoises to sea lions to tarantulas, there's plenty to explore at Faunia. There are also interactive exhibitions where kids and adults alike can learn more about ecosystems and evolution. For a more unusual experience, you can now visit Faunia after dark: until the end of August, the park opens from 9pm-midnight. 'Noches de Faunia' includes a visit to 'dinosaur canyon' and a moonlit sea lion show. Tickets cost €19.90 for children aged 8+ and adults, while children up to 7 can visit free. The nearest metro station is Valdebernado (line 9).

Open-air cinema

Although hiding away in an air-conditioned cinema might sound tempting, save indoor movie-watching for winter months and make the most of Madrid's warm summer nights at one of the city's outdoor cinemas. For rooftop cinema at a bargain price, head to Cine Doré in Lavapies, which is showing a range of classic Spanish films plus more modern international movies by Ken Loach and Wes Anderson for just €2.50. The outdoor cinema at Conde Duque has both Spanish blockbusters (including this year's Ocho Apellidos Vascos) and international ones, with sing-along showings of Mamma Mia and El otro lado de la cama. Tickets are €6 and can be booked here.

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